The land called ‘Streatley Meadows’ is a piece of Berkshire chalk downland in the centre of the village of Streatley, Berkshire and is within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a nationally important landscape. This land abuts the Ridgeway, England’s oldest road, and is part of the grassy chalk downland of the Berkshire Downs. It is overlooked by the National Trust land comprising Lardon Chase, The Holies and Lough Down.
The Berkshire Downs is an area of distinctive landscape character encompassing broad expanses of essentially open downland dissected by numerous dry valleys, richly-farmed vale and valley landscapes with many extensive areas of woodland. The Berkshire Downs have been settled since Neolithic or early prehistoric times as the numerous barrows, and other prehistoric earthwork features that are scattered around the chalk downs, testify.
Few areas of traditional chalk grassland have survived on the Downs except for limited tracts on the scarp itself and on the steep sides of dry valleys. These few areas support colourful lime-dependant wild flowers among the short rabbit-grazed springy turfs. On some steeper slopes, juniper and hawthorn scrub is frequent and beech is the dominant tree type occurring as characteristic clumps on numerous hill crests in the area.
Part of the extensive chalk deposits in south and east England, the Downs meet the river Thames and the Chilterns along the wooded Goring Gap (i.e. at Streatley).
Much of the open chalk downland, although traditionally pasture for sheep grazing, has now been ploughed up and replaced by neatly cultivated fields for arable crops or, in many areas, by race horse gallops. The conservation of this piece of land (with some careful management to return it to its full glory) is seen as part of the cultural heritage for the village of Streatley. Of critical importance for the Trustees of this land is to ensure that the villagers in Streatley gain not only from being able to see this beautiful tract of land but to also be able to use it. Managing the land for public benefit will be our primary concern.
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